The True Gospel Makes a Difference

[Sorry, Prayer Team! I began writing this two and a half weeks ago and couldn’t get it finished before today.]

We are half way through our first term of CLIR, studying Man, Sin, and Salvation, so last week I asked students if they have any testimonies to share. Here is one paraphrased excerpt:

“I am a university teacher. In the past, I would hear my Muslim students and peers discussing the problems with Christianity, and I was afraid to get involved. Because of what I am learning in this class, I was emboldened to respond to their questions and ask them some challenging questions of my own. They were shocked and asked where I had learned this.”

Others spoke of new and deeper conversations with their families and friends. It is such a joy to see these students already growing in Christian leadership after only a month with us.

WhatsApp Image 2019-02-22 at 9.42.33 AM.jpegWhatsApp Image 2019-02-22 at 9.42.32 AM.jpeg

Here’s the Cliff Notes, from the first day of class:

  1. God is holy and righteous.
  2. Humanity is sinful.
  3. God, in his holiness and righteousness, must punish sin.
  4. God, in his mercy and love, sent Jesus for sinners.
  5. Those who repent and believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior are saved.
  6. Those who are saved by Jesus, live in Jesus.

Keep them in prayer as they study. It is a spiritual work that God is doing in their hearts and minds.  [In class last week, I challenged the students to repent of sin, and trust in the grace of God alone.  I called them to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  No one spoke up that day, but in our conversations this week, I can tell that they have been reoriented (back?) to faith in Christ alone, and not any works or associations, to save them.]

Family

Continue to keep our family in prayer, too.

DSCF2636.JPGIMG_7489.JPGdea19445-0319-48aa-a4bc-18fe0777000e.jpg

Thank you all for your prayers over the last few months. It was a significantly difficult week before that last email.  The crazy thing was, after the email, after you all started praying, all the kids got sick, but in all that sickness, Krystal and I felt the presence of God keeping us at peace. Ministry these days continues to be an exercise of faith in God’s provision for health, strength, ministry, and fruit.

Do not stop praying! While it is tempting to give in to compassion fatigue, know that your prayers are lifting us up in the storm.

Screenshot 2019-03-01 19.51.54.png

Krystal

This past year has been one of refocusing for Krystal. As you know, she taught in CLIR last term, and this term she began mentoring a CLIR student. She continues to facilitate a bible study with women from church. She also serves as our team leader, helping us new leaders grow into our roles and offering support and accountability. Finally, Krystal has returned to working in Nyabisindu clinic caring for pregnant moms and doing health checks with babies. She is wearing a lot of hats and uses a day-planner well to keep her days and weeks organized.

IMG_7348.JPG

Team Retreat

A generous donor sponsored a retreat for our WorldVenture Rwanda team. We spent three days and two nights at a hotel working with a guest speaker to understand each other and our team culture. Krystal and I have believed that God has called us to be “better together” as a married couple. The same holds true for our team. God has put us together lift each other up and be strong where the other is weak. On the retreat, we experienced the joy of getting to “play” together, but also to know each other more deeply so that we can have greater grace with each other.

fullsizeoutput_4b91.jpeg

CLIR Status

We were looking for 30, but God brought 24 for this term. Already, I have heard of students contacting their friends to apply. Who knows who God will bring for term 2?

DSCF2656.JPG

As we pray for students, we also pray for staff. We have several teachers who are scheduled to teach, but may face trouble. We have one teacher who must finish his Masters degree just before he teaches. Another is finishing his Doctorate abroad. Another three (two staff, one teacher) are abroad on medical emergencies. Another, a skilled disciple-maker in the Pastoral Training School in Kinyarwanda, will be solo teaching in English at the Bachelors level for the first time. Also joining our NCM teaching staff, a new family transferring from Mali to Kigali in September. For all this uncertainty, praise God with us for the growth and development and healing that it represents. God is good.

DSCF2657.JPG

Finally, as we consider the process of accreditation and program development, pray that we would do so with wisdom, based on a spiritually discerned strategy that fits with the purpose of New Creation Ministries and the real needs of the Rwandan church.

 

Ministry Growth or Ministry Death

We are at a crossroads in Rwanda.  The government is seeking to crackdown on illegal churches and other non-profits that abuse their position to avoid taxes and take advantage of Rwandans.  The next step may have serious consequences for our ministry.

The government is writing a law that will require pastors to have education.  It says, “A religious teacher [at the national or district level] must have a bachelors degree in theology, or another bachelors degree plus a legal certificate in theology given by a legal school.”  Lower level pastors will still need some training, but not as strict.  There has been some pushback from church leaders asking for the law to be revised before being passed.

Our ministry is primarily discipleship, but our method is “schooling.”  We have a Pastoral Training School, and our university-level program (Christian Leadership Institute of Rwanda).  In both, we provide top-notch education, but how the law is written can greatly impact us.

Depending on how this law is written:

  • We could see tremendous enrollment in both programs as pastors seek to meet the education requirement.
  • We could see enrollment dry up, if we do not meet the standards decided by the government.
  • We could see our program diluted, if we have to significantly adapt our programs to the new law.
  • We could see our program suffer, if we have an influx of people who simply want the piece of paper (certificate of completion). Our time will be spent grading excess papers instead of mentoring the true disciples.

Pray with us that God would use this legislation as a blessing to his church in Rwanda.  Pray that he would continue to use New Creation Ministries as we help the church of Rwanda function as a the Body of Christ. As we prepare for a new enrollment at CLIR in January, pray with us that God would bring the right people for us to invest in.

Teaching

We are entering a busy time for teaching between mid-August and mid-March.  Nick is prepping to teachOld Testament Theologystarting in August.  The Old Testament is often misunderstood and usually misapplied to the church in Rwanda.  Pray for Nick as he helps the students wrestle with what the Old Testament actually teaches the church.

Pray also for Krystal, who will teach Self-Leadershipbeginning in October.  She has a Masters in Leadership from Denver Seminary, and lots of experience leading in a secular environment.  This course focuses on being a person of integrity as you lead, and Krystal will get to teach some of the most powerful lessons she has learned as a leader.

Family

Luke is 4.5 months old now and has started playing with his feet.  He loves laughing with his mommy and talking to his sisters.  Rayna is 2.5 years old, and she has taken to copying EVERYTHING Grace does, for better or worse.  She is a great hugger, and has lots of desire to talk, but struggles with a limited vocabulary.  Grace just turned 6 and is stretching her wings for independence.  She is learning to read, loves having chapter books read to her (Geronimo Stiltonand the Hardy Boys!), and enjoys being creative with all her craft supplies.

Krystal’s ankle has improved significantly by identifying some good diet changes.  Nick has good intentions of running twice a week.

I read recently “You have only 18 delicious summers with each child.”  On the other hand, our list of things to get done seems to increase daily. Pray that we would make each day count for eternity, balancing family and ministry needs.

Finances

We are so grateful for your continued sacrificial giving toward this work in Rwanda.  We notice each dollar, and we appreciate your vital part in this ministry.

Some people have experienced difficulty giving online.  Over the next few weeks, our sending organization, WorldVenture, will be rebuilding the online giving function.  If you already have automatic giving set up, that will continue.  However, we won’t be able to receive special gifts or new sign ups online until it is fully built.  If you have money burning a hole in your pocket, we can receive mailed checks.  We’ll keep you posted on when it’s back up.

Care Packages

If you ever wanted to send us a care package, this is the time!  We have two friends offering us space in their luggage!  Send us an email and we’ll get you the address for our friends.

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

Krystal’s Story

Since returning from Gahini, I (Krystal) have spent the last week and a half in the Theater (Operating Room) at Central University Hospital of Kigali (CHK).  The son-in-law of a NCM staff member is an anesthesiologist at CHK and offered to let me do part of my internship there.   Dr. Bona, the anesthesiologist, was able to spend six months in Canada on an anesthesiologist exchange program which made him the perfect contact for me (i.e. he speaks English, understands Western medicine and has a high standard of care).   His time in Canada made him realize how much Rwandan health care needs to be improved and has given him a desire to teach other doctors and nurses about patient safety, patient care and pain control (all things that are unusual in medical care here in Rwanda).

Dr. Bona was given a copy of my resume prior to my arrival and saw that I was both a nurse and working towards a Leadership degree.   He talked to the Director of Nursing about letting me teach OR nurses about “Leadership in the OR”and patient care.  She decided that whoever attended my seminars would be given a Continuing Education Certificate which validated my seminars and made them very desirable for staff to attend (any type of education is a big deal for Rwandans).

Krystal with the OR nurse director, Gene (Left), and Dr. Bona (Right)

Thus, for the next several days I spent every morning teaching a 45 minute seminar on patient care, discharge criteria from the post anesthetic recovery room, vital signs and common perioperative complications.  There were between 15 and 25 nurses that attended everyday while Dr. Bona translated my English to French and added in whatever he thought was necessary.

Krystal teaching on “Discharge Criteria for the PACU.” Wait, a patient should be able to breathe before we send them home?

While language made it difficult to build relationships and the OR is not my specialty in nursing, I was thrilled that I was able to offer some expertise and do some helpful teaching for the nurses.  Some of these nurses have never been taught about nursing interventions for things like hypotension (low blood pressure) or hemorrhaging (bleeding) or respiratory arrest so some of my teaching was new for them.  Additionally, this opportunity also reminded me how much I enjoy teaching.

The faithful class of nurses. After the last day of classes, many of them finally came up and spoke English! Where were you five days ago?

At the of the seminar, Dr. Bona told me that he is trying to help CHK gain some type of accreditation by implementing a World Health Organization (WHO) protocol of a surgical safety checklist.  What amazes me is that this protocol is an international standard that includes such things as verifying that you have the right patient and surgical site prior to surgery and giving prophylactic antibiotics within 60 minutes of surgery -these are all things we do in the USA and Canada to EVERY patient without even thinking about it but here they are hardly ever done.  Can you imagine, having a metal plate drilled onto your femur in Africa without any prophylactic antibiotics? I asked Dr. Bona if I could do anything to help him implement the safety checklist and he was excited to have me create a draft of the checklist and help with aspects of his presentation! I am excited that even in this short internship in a country where I don’t speak two of the main languages I have been blessed by being given an opportunity to help make a change that will save lives.

Nick’s Story

So Krystal posted in a cool, creative pdf about her week in Gahini.  I hope you had a chance to check it out.  I haven’t posted about my week away from her.  I got to spend some time in the dorms at the Pastoral Training School at New Creation Ministries.  My roommate, Jonny, is an intern from Moody teaching ESL to the pastors in the PTS in the afternoon and helping at another night class for community members.  I stayed in the dorms, ate with the pastors, and interviewed a few with the help of my translator, Silas.  To my loss, that was my time to “live with Rwandans,” and I forgot that it was one of my goals to “live among them,” to fully enter in.

Eating dinner with the Pastoral Training School pastors and Jonny. Can you guess which one is Jonny?

Silas, my translator, and Theogene, a graduate of NCM’s PTS

Since then I have had three major assignments.  First, I have been interviewing various people connected with NCM to learn about the church of Rwanda, leadership structure of the church here, and understanding of Christianity and Christian life. I’ve finished 14 interviews, but have about 10 more to go.  Preliminary results show that the pastors who participate in NCM’s training greatly appreciate the formative nature of the classes.  I’m sure I’ll have more to say on this later.

Second, I have been leading a Bible study on the book of Galatians for three Rwanda staff members.  It is definitely a learning experience all around.  I’ve actually studied Galatians quite in depth, translating it from Greek to English and examining most of the major elements involved.  But my “students” are mostly graduates from Bible College with degrees in theology.  Instead of being unidirectional, from me to them, it is truly a meeting of the minds.  The added benefit to them is that they get to practice English by listening to me and each other, and forming and delivering arguments in English.  English is becoming more and more important in Rwanda, especially since President Kagame required all education be done in English.  For that reason, NCM’s new university program, CLIR, will be in English, and these teachers are excited hone their skills in English.

Galatians Bible Study: Jean Bosco, Gaudiose, Joseph, and Nick

Third, I have had the opportunity to travel with Gary to visit two pastors in their churches in the area called Changugu, aka the middle of nowhere.  Far to the southwest, almost on the border of Burundi, on the other side of the African Continental divide.  After six hours of driving, we arrived to the first church on Saturday afternoon, so they held a special Saturday service for us.  They fed us, and then began to clear their living room of other furniture.  I was curious, but I soon found out that they were making room for the two beds they borrowed from their neighbors for us to use.  I had been prepared for anything, including sharing a single bed with Gary, but that the pastor went out of his way to borrow two beds….

They got us a second bed! Usually mosquito nets drape over the bed, but here they put them on the walls to prevent pieces of the new mud walls from falling on us while we slept.

The next morning we ate breakfast: sardines, potatoes, cow stomach, beans and rice.   (I don’t have many pictures of food because Rwandans are VERY private about meals.  They close the doors and windows, and eat in relative quiet.)

Later Gary said, “Nick was able to use one of the worst longdrops [out-houses] I’ve ever seen, and was able to stomach stomach for breakfast.  He’ll be a great fit here.”  We went on an walk to the place where the first European entered Rwanda: A German in 1901!  Then we rushed off to another church, 3 kilometers away.  Thirty minutes later, we arrived.  Andrew S. is right, “close” is a relative term.  I’ll make a special post next time about Rwandan church services.

Krystal and I are traveling with the Sheers, Finleys and Bennetts out to Changugu again from this weekend through next.  Apparently, there is an annual retreat on Lake Kivu for all Christian missionaries in Rwanda.  This year over 130 people will be there.  While there, Krystal will get to go on two pastoral visit with Gary and me.  We will also get to know many of these other missionaries and ask them about their call and ministry to Rwanda.  For Krystal, especially, it will be a great chance to network with other medical missionaries.  Thanks for your prayers on her behalf.  This week has been especially profitable for her as she considers her skills and the type of ministry that Rwanda needs.

Please pray for us as we get to know the team better, visit pastors, and network.

The team here seems to like us, and we love them, too.  The current ministry, training pastors, is highly valued by the pastors themselves.  The future ministry, a Bible college, is also something I would greatly enjoy doing.  Rwanda is starting to look like a good fit.